Valoreign Campaign Bible
Valoreign is an island kingdom known for its chivalry and magic. Human knights and wizards of the Severian Empire invaded the island realm over a thousand years ago, wresting control from the indigenous tribes of dwarves, elves, and human berserkers. The kingdom has since established its supremacy and forged tenuous alliances with many of its former enemies, in particular the dwarf clans of the north. It has survived the collapse of the Severian Empire and the arrival of dragons and warlords eager to stake their claim on the rich island domain, not to mention threats from other survivors of the Severian Empire’s demise, including its nearest political neighbor, the mainland kingdom of Nirvan.
The current ruler of Valoreign is His Royal Highness Thomas Starhewen, the Manticore King. King Thomas is 95 years old, and for years his longevity was attributed to the wizardry of the Council of Magi. The seven members of the Council—each one a powerful archmage of noble birth—serve the king as advisors and island defenders. The king also relies on three knightly orders to defend the realm and hold its enemies at bay: the Order of the Hearth, which defends the heavily populated lowlands to the south; the Order of the Flame, which defends the scarcely populated highlands to the north; and the Order of the Grave, which is comprised of dead knights who can, in times of need, be revived through the arcane art of necromancy.
King Thomas rules from Valorstand, the academic and religious heart of the kingdom. The worship of dieties is prominent here, and the Archbishop of Abadar’s Cathedral has great influence at court. Beyond the walls of Valorstand, the lowlands are comprised of farms, forests, rustic towns, and backwater villages built on land bequeathed by kings to noble landowners and religious abbeys. Sylvan forests are home to wood elves and other fey creatures that shun humanity except when goblin uprisings demand a temporary alliance. By stark comparison, the highlands are a vast, untamed frontier where civilization has barely taken root and where dwarves and orcs wage open war. Dangerous beasts also roam these cold, mountainous, forsaken lands. East of the main island of Engweald is the island of Iyarlaan, annexed by Valoreign after the armies of Ronald Starhewen, the Gorgon King, slaughtered the berserker chieftains, decimated their tribes, and subjugated the survivors. In his advanced age, King Thomas has neglected the berserker tribes of Iyarlaan and allowed them to grow in strength and number, undoing much of his father’s work and causing great consternation at court.
A Brief Timeline
512: The Severin Empire invades the island of Engweald.
520: The empire forges an alliance with the Skorinfain (the dwarves of Engweald) against the orc hordes.
533: Imperial forces storm the island of Iyarlaan and face the native berserker tribes in battle.
575: Imperial legions conquer Engweald and Iyarlaan, and the vassal kingdom of Valoreign is born.
576: Kjerin Ravenstorm, the Wyvern King, is crowned the first ruler of Valoreign.
825: The Severin Empire collapses, causing great turmoil. Valoreign is no longer beholden to Empress Severia.
826: Empress Severia seeks asylum in the kingdom of Nirvan but is captured and executed.
888: Nirvan tries to politically annex Valoreign but fails. A military coup is likewise thwarted.
906: The berserker tribes of Ilyarlaan oust their imperial overseers, ushering in “the Wild Years.”
1081: When the House of Ravenstorm produces no worthy heir, the House of Starhewen claims the throne.
1082: Jocelyn Starhewen, the Griffon Queen, becomes the first sovereign queen of Valoreign.
1124: Queen Jocelyn’s warchips sink a Nirvanan naval flotilla transporting supplies to Lyarlaan.
1125: The queen staves off war be marrying Prince Leopold Marciveau of Nirvan, all of eleven years old.
1130: Nirvan assassins poison Prince Leopold to foment war, but their plot is foiled with the aid of magic.
1259: A goblin uprising leads to the first formal alliance between Valoreign and the Engwealdar (wood elves).
1275: Valorstand hosts a diplomatic visit from the King of Nirvan, ushering in an era of peace and prosperity.
1280: Ronald Starhewen, the Gorgon King, wins the Battle of the Red Skies. Valoreign reclaims Iyarlaan.
1283: Following the death of his father, 18-year old Thomas Starhewen is crowned the Manticore King.
1285: King Thomas sires the first of five children, Prince Theodore is declared heir to the throne.
1300: Queen Alice and her only child die shortly after childbirth. Oddly, neither receives a funeral.
1307: The Winter Wars ignite as Valoreign allies with the Skorinfain dwarves against the orc hordes.
1311: King Thomas and his knights slay the white wyrm Ezenglaur at the Battle of Tarnshead.
1334: King Kristophe Marciveau of Nivan marries Lady Evangeline Dumonde, thirty-five years his junior.
1360: (Present Year) A wave of arcane energy explodes across Valoreign (the Night of Wild Magic).
The Night of Wild Magic
Less than a year prior to the start of the campaign, a blast of arcane energy exploded in the heart of Valoreign and washed across the island kingdom like a sparkling wave of green flame. Many of the people, places, and things touched by the wave were magically transformed in seemingly random ways. Others were completely unaffected as the wave washed over them harmlessly.
The transformations range from curious and amusing to disturbing and outright malevolent. One farmer reported that his barn transformed into a giant wooden dragon that took to the skies and has never been seen since. An innkeeper’s gossipy wife sprouted a second head that speaks only in the Sylvan tongue. The apples in a monastery orchard turned white and are rumored to possess astonishing magical properties. A boulder outside the village of Hobnock was reshaped into the likeness of a grinning face, even sprouting moss that resembles hair and sideburns, while at the same time all children in the village vanished without a trace. A noble lord woke up from his slumber without his ears, while his favorite mule was suddenly imbued with intelligence, the power of speech, and mastery of five languages.
To make matters worse, weird convulses of transformations still occur, though at a diminishing frequency and power. Speculation on this runs wild from magical aftershocks to the natural magic of the world trying to reach a normal equilibrium.
Scholars surmise that the event originated in the Elder World, also known as the Feywild or the Faerie Realm, likely spilling into Valoreign through a fey crossing. At least, that seems the most likely explanation given the unpredictable nature of the magic and its apparent irreversibility. However, no one is certain where the eruption into the natural world actually occurred, or what might have caused it.
Some citizens would like nothing more than to see the Night of Wild Magic undone. Others are more inclined to leave well enough alone and accept the good with the bad, particularly given the most astonishing transformation of all: that of King Thomas Starhewen. Before the Night of Wild Magic, the Manticore King was a rickety, time-addled, 95-year-old husk of a man. By morning, he was restored to his 17-year-old self, young in body yet wise in years.
The Elder World (The Feywild)
Scholars and priests usually refer to the Feywild as the “Elder World,” a realm twisted by magic and riddled with mystery. Myths, legends, and fables about the Elder World abound, even among the dwarf clans of the north and the berserker clans of Iyarlaan, both of which have endured their fair share of “fey encounters.” Creatures from the Feywild enter the natural world through fey crossings, most of which are notoriously difficult to detect because they exist only at certain times or under rare conditions (such as in the light of a full moon during the summer solstice).
Most folk who blunder into the Feywild never return, while those who claim to have ventured there and returned are utterly mad. The wood elves of Engweald and Iyarlaan have strong ties to the Feywild, but even they shun the Elder World and the madcap politics of the fey courts.
The After World (The Shadowfell)
As much as the Elder World exists, so too does the After World; like the Feywild, it is a place best avoided by mortals. The After World does not abide the living, which is why only the dead find peace there. Stories tell of a City of the Dead in the Shadowfell, ruled by a horrific figure called the Ghoul King, and of pale-faced, black-clad horsemen who venture from the city into the land of the living, emerging through shadow crossings to harvest souls on moonlit nights.
Knights who belong to the Order of the Grave are thought to reside in the After World, until such time as necromantic rituals are used to call them forth into service once more. The Shadowfell is also where the spirits of the deceased dwell for a time before continuing their journey to the afterlife. Often, spirits will escape this bleak realm to haunt the natural world as ghosts, wraiths, and other horrors.